Friday, March 22, 2013

Disney: Getting There and Hollywood Studios

I am just now getting around to blogging about our trip to Disney World which was 6 months ago. I think I've been putting this off because it seems like a daunting task. I want to remember every single detail from this trip because as cliche as it sounds, it truly was magicial. So buckle in for this long read and let's go!

We left for Disney on November 1st and returned November 5th. I was a little worried about how Ben would do on the plane ride, but the excitment of it all combined with the fact that I packed a whole back pack full of activities kept him pretty occupied.

Our plane left in the early afternoon and we landed in Florida around 5 or 6. This trip was also our first time flying Southwest but they were the only airline that had non-stop flights from St. Louis to Orlando. I knew I did not want to deal with the hassle of a layover so Southwest it was. I was a little nervous about getting seats together since SW does not have assigned seating but luckily families with small children get to board early. If you are flying with young children take advantage of this! There were a few families who didn't and the mom and dad had to split up or ask strangers to switch seats.

Our plain arrived in the early evening and from the airport we took Disney's Magical Express to the hotel. If I could give only one piece of advice to those going to Disney it would be to stay at a hotel on the property. Yes, some of the hotels can be pretty pricey, but the All-Star hotels where we stayed were very inexpensive. One of the best perks to staying on the property is that transportation to and from the airport as well as to all the parks is included for free.

After hours of researching hotels, we finally settled on Disney's All Star Movies. The hotel is located right on the Disney property and is super inexpensive. We knew we would be at the parks all day and would really only be using the room to sleep and shower. With that said, this hotel did not disappoint. The rooms were a fairly good size, there were several pools, movies and activities at night for the kids, an aracade, food court, and much more. Plus each set of rooms has it's own theme. We were located in Fantasia.

After going to bed shortly after we arrived at the hotel, we woke ready to tackle our first park, Hollywood Studios.

I did a lot of planning for this trip. For each theme park I looked up the rides, height requirements, etc and made a list of things I wanted to make sure we did. I didn't want to waste time walking all the way across the park to a ride that Ben wasn't even tall enough for. And even though I had an outline of our days, I did not plan out every minute. First of all, J would not have been a happy camper and I wanted us to take our time, walk around, meet characters, and not be stuck to a timeline.

Hollywood Studios had lots of great rides and things to do and we ended up staying until about an hour before it closed.

Meeting Handy Manny.

Love this picture.

Our first ride was the Great Movie Ride. It took you through different scenes and sets of famous Disney movies.

I love that you can see just how excited Ben is.

The next ride was the Star Wars 3D ride. Ben was just at 40 in. and able to ride this. This one was a little too scray for his liking and he clung to me through most of the ride.

A stop at Pizza Planet was a must.

After lunch we watched the Muppet 3D show.

And then made our way to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play Area. I remember playing there when I was little so it was really neat to experience it with my own child.

By the time we were done playing, it was almost time for the parade and our first Disney parade did not disappoint!

Next up was the Extreme Stunt Show. Make sure you get there early so you can get seats up close and in the middle.

*A note about strollers. Bring one. Although Ben is more than capable of walking, there is A LOT of walking at Disney. The stroller was also great at the end of the night or when Ben was tired. We reclined it all the back and he was able to sleep. Disney offers stroller parking outside each ride for you to leave your stroller as well. We bought a new one just for Disney that was light weight and easy to fold up when getting on and off the shuttles in the morning and at night and it was a lifesaver.

Ben was so excited when Lightening McQueen made a special appearence.

For our final stop of the day we rode Toy Story Mania.

All the Disney planning websites will tell you to get a Fast Pass for this ride and they are right. The wait is easily two hours without a Fast Pass. A Fast Pass is a special pass you can get throughout the day that allows you to cut in line during your specifed time. You walk up to the machines outside the ride and insert your park ticket. The machine will then spit out another ticket specifically for that ride that tells you a time period to return during. Come back during that period and you go to the front of the line. We definitely took advantage of the Fast Passes throughout our entire trip.

For Toy Story Mania we got our Fast Pass at around 10:00 a.m.  and the return was between 5-6:00 p.m. If you don't get a Fast Pass early in the day, some rides will be sold out. Shortly after we got ours, all the Fast Passes were gone.

We spotted the Green Army Man hanging out outside the ride.

We ended our day with frozen lemonades before making our way over to Chef Mickey's for dinner.

More of our Disney adventure to come tomorrow!
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